Inversion Preparation: Core-Arm-Shoulder

When we were kids, perhaps some of us thought that to fly, we’d have to flap our arms, like birds flap their wings. In our first yoga classes and on playgrounds, many of us try to kick our ways into flips, and wind up flopping. The core is the real powerhouse that allows us to take flight, whether in Crane, Firefly or Forearm Stand Pose.

Our arms may not be required to flap, but they do become our sturdy foundation, so strength in the supporting muscles and flexibility in the shoulders are the complement to core engagement for successful inversions. Think of your arms like legs and your core muscles like an elevator lift and you’ll create a steady, solid base for all of your inversions.

Things you might want to have handy: Yoga Mat, Yoga Towel or Blanket, Yoga Strap, Yoga Blocks

It is recommended to perform the warm-up before starting this routine.

Step 1: Downward Facing Dog, Variation - Forearms
Duration: exhale
Pose Review: Downward Facing Dog

From Downward Facing Dog, lower your elbows to the ground. You can keep your hands in front of your elbows for extra opening, or lightly intertwine your fingers. This is sometimes referred to as “Dolphin Dog” and will further open your shoulders and side bodies while strengthening your back.

Step 2: Plank, Variation - Forearms
Duration: Inhale
Pose Review: Plank Pose

Wave forward again through your core, lowering your sternum between your shoulders even as you lift your hips in line between heels and shoulders.

Step 3: Repeat Steps 3-4 10x

Move back and forth with the breath, building heat, strength and awareness.

Step 4: Downward Facing Dog, Variation - Mountain Climber

Duration: 1 breath, alternate sides, 24x
Pose Review: Downward Facing Dog

Lower your knees, to place your hands on the ground and then lift your hips up and back to Downward Facing Dog. Exhale and draw your right knee into your chest. Inhale and step back. Switch sides, repeat 12 times on each side, alternating.

Step 5: Scale Pose
Duration: 12 breaths
Pose Review: Scale Pose

From Lotus, Half Lotus or Easy Pose, press your palms into the ground just in front of either hip.  Draw your pelvic floor up and engage your core so strongly that you lift your hips and knees off the floor and toward your chest. If you are in Lotus, your body will hang like a mechanical scale between your arms. If you are building strength from Half Lotus or Easy Pose and your feet don’t yet come up, press them into the floor to build strength.

Step 6: Firefly Pose
Duration: 12 breaths
Pose Review: Firefly Pose

From a narrow footed Garland Pose, reach your hands between your legs and back around your heels so that your palms are outside your feet, coming from behind. Hug your knees into your upper arms as you sit back, transferring your weight to your arms. Extend your legs and point your toes.

Step 7: Downward Facing Dog, Variation - Jumps
Duration: 1 breath, repeat 12 times
Pose Review: Downward Facing Dog

From Downward Facing Dog, walk your feet a little forward until you are on your toes. Bend your knees and exhaling press back with your belly, drawing your heels to your hips and your hips over your shoulders. Maintain total engagement in your arms with a broad chest. Return to the ground immediately on the inhale. Repeat 12 times.

Rest in Child’s Pose until your breath stabilizes.

Step 8: Crow Pose

Duration: 12 breaths
Pose Review: Crow Pose

From Garland Pose, place your hands in front of your feet, under your shoulders, elbows bend back slightly. Place your knees high up on the backs of your arms as you lift your belly strongly to transfer your weight to your arms and lift your toes.

Step 9: Wheel Pose
Duration: 12 breaths
Pose Review: Wheel Pose

Lie in Corpse Pose until your breath stabilizes. Bend your knees and bring your heels to your hips. Reach up, bend your elbows and place your palms above your shoulders, fingers pointed to feet, about the level of your earlobes. Exhale and lift your hips as high as you can, maintaining a long low back by reaching your tailbone toward your knees. Keep your knees over your ankles. Deeply inhale, and exhaling straighten your arms and press your hips higher and allow your spine to wave up and open as you rise into a full backbend.

Step 10: Shoulder Stand
Duration: 5-25 breaths
Pose Review: Shoulder Stand

From a supine position, press your elbows into the ground, draw your knees in and extend your legs up and overhead. Bring your hands to your low back and support it until your breath stabilizes. Reaching up through your toes, slowly bring your hips over your shoulders until your shoulders, hips and toes are in a line perpendicular to the ground. Breathe with your chest, keeping your core muscles fully engaged.

Step 11: Plow

Duration: 5-25 breaths
Pose Review: Plow Pose

Lower your feet behind your head without lowering your hips toward your chest. Maintain long side bodies. Reach your hands behind you and bring your hand together with straight arms.

Step 12: Fish
Duration 5 breaths
Pose Review: Fish Pose

Unfurl through your core until your hips are on the ground. Bend your knees and bring your toes to the ground. Pressing your elbows into the ground, lift your heart up until you are balanced on your sitting bones and sacrum and reach the top of your head back to the ground. Reach your arms up.

Perform the relaxation sequence to complete this routine.

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